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NEW YORK -- If a new Stanley Cup Playoff star emerges Monday night in Washington, D.C., he'll have Henrik Lundqvist to thank for the opportunity.
Lundqvist made sure the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers need a seventh game to decide their playoff series for a second straight season by making 27 saves for his seventh career playoff shutout Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Derick Brassard scored the lone goal as the Rangers beat the Capitals, 1-0, in Game 6 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Game 7 is Monday at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), where the Capitals are 3-0 in the series and have held the Rangers to two goals.
The Rangers are 0-5 all-time in Game 7s on the road. Washington will be heading to its third straight Game 7 after beating the Boston Bruins and losing to the Rangers last year.
"The regular-season (stuff) means nothing, you make your legacy as a player in these type of situations," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "A number of our guys last year had a blast playing in these games. Some guys handle it. Some guys don't. I don't want to use that, this is what you play for, but that's what you play for, is to get yourself into this type of situation and see what type of character you have as a player individually and as a team."
Lundqvist had to protect a 1-0 lead in the third period, and fortunately he was the Rangers' best player with 12 saves.
He made back-to-back point-blank saves on Jason Chimera and Joel Ward from the slot with just over 10 minutes left and then saved what looked like it would have been an own goal by Steve Eminger with his right pad less than two minutes later. He used his glove to snare Eric Fehr's wrist shot off the rush with 3:49 left in the third period.
He was similarly stellar after Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (28 saves) left the ice with 90 seconds left to create a 6-on-5 advantage for Washington. Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle helped their goalie by blocking shots as the Capitals controlled possession following a timeout by coach Adam Oates with 49 seconds left.
Washington still got off two shots on goal in the final 15 seconds, but Lundqvist preserved the shutout and forced a Game 7 with two more saves.
"We needed it and I can't wait to go to Washington and play another Game 7," Lundqvist said. "There was a lot of desperation out there. We showed a lot of character and we worked really hard. The last couple shifts, it was that type of game where we paid the price, big blocks and played physical all night. Great win."
The Rangers helped themselves by staying disciplined. They didn't give Washington any power plays, which was beneficial because the Rangers couldn't do anything when they were on the power play, including a 44-second 5-on-3 in the first period.
They went 0-for-5 and fell to 2-for-26 in the series, including 0-for-3 in 5-on-3 situations. Washington is still 3-for-14 on the power play in the series.
"They kept our most dangerous weapon off the ice, our power play," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "They got the one good bounce to go in, and we didn't have an answer for it. It's very frustrating that you have to go for Game 7 [Monday], but that's the way it is sometimes."
The Capitals, though, did not agree with the fact that they weren't awarded at least one power play.
"The first thing is our PK is doing great, it's holding us in this series," Holtby said. "[Sunday] shouldn't have been so lopsided. We all know that. Everyone can see that. That part is frustrating, but I thought our guys did a very good job keeping their composure through."
"It's 5-0 in power plays, you don't want to complain, but that play to me is the one that does concern me," Oates said. "It looks like a slew foot to me. Obviously, that's why Mike reacted. Mike is not that type of player. You watch it and to me it looks like a slew foot. A very dangerous play. I realize Green is one of the guys they want to target. But that's a very dangerous play."
Dorsett was unaware of the accusations when the media was in the Rangers' dressing room.
"When I get moving my feet and playing hard, sometimes it can get under the skin of other guys," Dorsett said. "Anytime I can do that, I want to try and help get the team on the power play."
Brassard gave the Rangers the lead 9:39 into the second period, when his slap shot hit off Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy and dipped under Holtby's glove. Rick Nash was in front of the net and was initially given credit for the goal, but replays clearly showed that Oleksy reached out his left hand and deflected the puck.
The goal was changed to Brassard in between periods. He leads the Rangers with seven points in the series.
"I think the crowd in the second period was chanting 'shoot the puck,' " Brassard said, accurately describing exactly what the fans were chanting moments before he shot the puck. "When I received the pass I was going back to John [Moore], but I finally decided to shoot and Rick was right in front. I think the defenseman touched it there. You never know. You put the puck on net and good things happen."
Alex Ovechkin also had a couple of solid chances on Lundqvist in the second period, but none were better than his shot off the rush with roughly five minutes to play in the period. Lundqvist kicked out his left pad in time to stop Ovechkin's quick snap shot from just inside the left circle.
Lundqvist also thwarted an Ovechkin scoring chance less than a minute after Brassard scored when he used his stick to disrupt No. 8's timing on a rush down the left side. Ovechkin was trying to go to he had to try to go around Lundqvist's stick and wound up shooting the puck wide of the net.
Ovechkin has been held off the scoresheet since Game 2.
"It is what it is, nothing you can do," Ovechkin said. "You're not gonna cry and say it's over. [Monday] is huge."
|Jack Hillen Roughing against Ryan Callahan|
|Karl Alzner Delaying Game-Puck over glass against Derek Dorsett|
|Eric Fehr Elbowing against Derick Brassard|
|Joel Ward Cross checking against Steve Eminger|
|Mike Green Cross checking against Derek Dorsett|
|Derek Stepan Roughing against John Carlson|
|Dan Girardi Roughing against Troy Brouwer|
|John Carlson Roughing against Derek Stepan|
|Troy Brouwer Roughing against Dan Girardi|